The Chikmagalur House

Chikmagalur district, Karnataka


Mr K.A.Mohamed Ismail, built this house in 1914. The house represents one part of the history of the Chikmagalur district, in Karnataka, as well as the Muslim heritage of Karnataka. Mr.Mohamed's ancestors immigrated from West Asia (Turkey) to Bijapur several centuries ago and later to Chikmagalur. His neighbors say he may have owned five acres of coffee - appropriate both for the area which is known for its excellent coffee as well as for the tale which attributes the introduction of coffee by an Arab trader into Chikmagalur in the late 1700s.

Mr. Mohamed was also a trader. He owned the main general store in Aldur, a small town 30 kilometers from Chikmagalur town and sourced his merchandise from far away Bombay (Mumbai). His neighbors and distant relatives spoke of the beautiful porcelain, his elaborate furniture and lamps. From his decorative stucco work recreated here in lime exactly as it was in his house we know that he was widely travelled. This work combines inspiration from the colonial period and from the grand Muslim manor houses of the time.

Exhibition on Shared Heritage of Muslims and Hindus in South India :

U.S. Consul General Jennifer McIntyre inaugurated the restored ‘Chikmagalur House’ and an exhibition on ‘A Shared Heritage’ at the DakshinaChitra Museum, Muttukadu on Saturday, July 5, 2014. The exhibition was funded by the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai. The exhibition showcases the Shared Heritage of Muslims and Hindus in South India , trade relations , art and architecture. The author of The Hussaini Alam House, Huma R. Kidwai, was the chief guest.

U.S. Consul General Jennifer McIntyre said, “DakshinaChitra, is a wonderful showcase and celebration of South India’s rich cultural texture. I have personally enjoyed each and every visit to DakshinaChitra – learning something new on each trip - and regularly recommend our U.S. visitors come here to better understand South India’s history and cultures. So, I was particularly delighted that the U.S. Consulate had the opportunity this year to partner with DakshinaChitra on this ‘Chikmagalur House’ project, showcasing the unique traditions of the Muslim community in South India.”

Madras Craft Foundation (MCF) President Deborah Thiagarajan said, “I am very happy to have the opportunity to be able to show in a small way the history and contribution of Muslims from South India to the culture of India.”

Contributors to the Exhibition :

  • Curator: Gigi Scaria
  • Film maker and content consultant: S. Anwar
  • Technical & Production: Eve Lemesle
  • Education and Concept Consultant: Stephen Eckerd
  • Photographer: Clare Arni and Gigi Scaria

Our thanks to:

  • Jeernodhar Conservators Pvt Ltd for building conservation
  • Vastrakala for zardozi panel and video
  • Susheela Gopinath for porcelain and furniture
  • Konica for printing
  • Murali Cheeroth , Sonia Mehra Chawla, Prerna Sharma, Sripal , Metro Imaging,